Echidna, or Spiny Anteater, an egg-laying mammal closely related to the duckbill platypus. The echidna is 17 to 28 inches (43 to 71 cm) long and weighs 5 to 22 pounds (2.3 to 10 kg). The body is covered with brownish-black or grayish fur and sharp, yellow spines tipped with black. The echidna has small, close-set eyes located at the base of its bare snout. The feet are flat and broad and have long, curved claws used for digging burrows. The echidna feeds on ants, termites, and worms, which it unearths with its snout and gathers into its mouth with its long, sticky tongue. During the breeding season, the female develops an abdominal pouch, which holds a single leathery-shelled egg. After about 10 days, the egg hatches and the young begins to suck up milk that is secreted onto tufts of hair in the pouch. It remains there until it develops spines, about eight weeks later.

The echidnaThe echidna is an egg-laying mammal closely related to the duckbill platypus.

There are two species of echidnas. The short-nosed echidna is found in Australia and on New Guinea. The long-nosed echidna is found only on New Guinea. It is threatened by extinction due to clearing of its habitat for agriculture and indiscriminate hunting for its meat.

Echidnas belong to the family Tachyglossidae. The short-nosed echidna is Tachyglossus aculeatus; long-nosed, Zaglossus bruijni.